Problem aspects of doping in modern sports and solutions

PhD, associate professor O.P. Kokoulina1
PhD, associate professor S.Y. Tatarova2
Associate professor Z.Kh. Nizametdinova2
Associate professor J. Polishkenea2
1Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow
2Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow

Keywords: doping, sports, athletes, IOC, Olympic Games.

Background. Doping cases and issues have always been subject to disputes and controversies in the professional athletic and supporter communities, particularly nowadays when they make headlines in the global mass media with often prejudiced emphases to stigmatize and demonize Russian sports – albeit the modern pharmacological agents are being covertly and exponentially applied the world over for the competitive progress. Virtually every day news outlets report doping cases and disqualifications in elite sports.

Objective of the study was to analyze the doping situation in the modern sports and outline the potential solutions.

Results and discussion. We believe that the still high incidence of the doping cases in the global professional sports may be explained to an extent by the following: low professional competences and ethical standards of coaches; fast physiological response related benefits of different doping agents; and the unpreparedness of coaches for focused long-run education and training service for success.

First doping cases, as reported by historians, were faced in the ancient Olympic Games in the 3 century B.C. when some athletes made resort to wine with strychnine and some herbs for success [1]. Most popular in the early ХХ century were amphetamines followed by anabolic agents and erythropoietin. At this juncture, according to the recent WADA reports, the list of prohibited agents is headed by anabolic steroids, stimulants, diuretic and other masking agents [2, 3].

Since the early 2000s, ranked among the most efficient doping agents were the genetic expression modifiers initially intended to cure many serious diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis, hemophilia, Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases etc. These agents were found to improve, among other things, the physical working capacity as verified, for instance, by the lab mice tests that showed notable progress in the lung ventilation, energy supply, muscular functionality and other test rates.[4]. In February 2004, Richard Pound, the-then WADA head, stated in The Times: “I don’t think we will face genetic doping cases in the Athens Olympics and very unlikely in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, albeit they are quite probable in the 2012 Olympics”.

The first genetic doping case was reported by the global mass media on November 20, 2012 when Sergey Lisin, elite Russian skater, was disqualified, although no evidence to support the case may be found in the WADA and RUSADA reports. Moreover, the reports of 2012 through 2014 give no other genetic doping cases. It should be mentioned that at this juncture the global science is still in need of dependable proofs for the pros and cons of the genetic doping and its side effects, with some researchers even promoting them as brilliant therapeutic medicines [5].

As things now stand, it is still unclear for many what are the core reasons and motivations for the centuries-old doping issues. We made an attempt to explore the doping motivations by a questioning survey of a young people’s sample including 94.7% of the actively sporting individuals or retired athletes.

It was found by the survey, that one of the central doping motivations is the sport popularity rated on average by 8.27 points by the respondents; followed by the competitive accomplishments and standings in the historical records. It should be underlined that 9.9% of the sample approved doping for the sport popularity related purposes; and 26.3% of the active athletes in the sample confessed that they would use doping for competitive success if they knew it was undetectable and unpunished. Therefore, we have reasons to believe that the doping motivations are routed not only in the athletic community but in the supporting community as well, with its expectations of fantastic wins and records.

Analysis of responses to the question on how polluted the global sports are with doping showed that 73.2% of the sample is sensitive to the issues and rates the global doping pollution by 6.72 points on a 10-point scale – that is quite a concerned attitude to the present global doping situation in sports as we believe.

Furthermore, 25% of the sample accepted the idea of Doping Games as an alternative to the traditional Olympics for the genetically modified athletes. Thus we come to the question of future progress of the global sports, since the latest developments in the genetic doping toolkits have made it possible to strongly boost the individual physical capacities without special trainings beyond the natural limits. We would recommend the further global doping eradication efforts in this context being designed to:

  • Tighten up the punishments for the World Ant-doping Code violations, up to the life disqualifications from competitions;
  • Expand the doping test system to serve both the high-ranking and regional events, with the tests taken on a  more frequent basis;
  • Recruit the most competent independent non-resident expertise to the doping control system;
  • Lecture the national athletic community on the doping issues and mobilize people for the doping control movements;
  • Expand the lists of prohibited agents;
  • Put the system of qualifications for the international sport competitions on an efficient doping control basis; and
  • Offer broad education programs for contributors to the Olympic movement up from the grass-route sport schools and sport clubs.

Due priority shall be given to the modern anti-doping education ranked among the key doping control tools, with the relevant preventive components focused on the beginner athletes and coaches. With this purpose, we have developed a special Doping Prevention in Modern Sports Program to cultivate negative attitudes to doping in the beginner athletes and build up the following:

  1. Competence in doping issues in sports and negative impacts of doping on the individual and social health and progress of elite sports;
  2. Understanding of the valid anti-doping legal and regulatory provisions and policies; and
  3. Good ethical values and priorities for commitment to the fair play rules in sports.

Conclusion. Solutions of the doping control issues are recommended to be attained by special knowledge and skills advancement trainings for coaches; efficient sport selection systems for gifted children and adolescents; systemic anti-doping campaigns; and upgrades to the existing doping control systems.


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  2. Vsemirny antidopingovy kodeks [World Anti-Doping Code] [Electronic resource]. Available at:
  3. Gik E., Gupalo E. Sport i doping [Sport and doping]. Science and Life, 2014, no. 1 [Electronic resource]. Available at:
  4. Pervy sluchay v istorii: genny doping GW1516 obnaruzhil u rossiyskogo sportsmena [The first case in history: Russian athlete to have gene doping GW1516 [Electronic resource]. Available at:
  5. Platonov V.N., Oleinik S.A., Gunina L.M. Doping v sporte i problemy farmakologicheskogo obespecheniya podgotovki sportsmenov [Doping in sports and problems of pharmacological support for athletic training]. Moscow: Sov. sport publ., 2013, 308 p.
  6. Oleinik S.A., Gunina L.M., Seifulla R.D. [Ed.] Farmakologiya sporta [Sports pharmacology]. Kiev: Olympus. lit. publ., 2015, 640 p.

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Doping control has long been ranked among the key sport problems faced since the first Olympic Games and still increasingly critical for the global sports on the whole and the national sports in particular. Special medicines in some cases overshadow the traditional daily trainings and competitive progress agendas of some athletes. The study analyzes the potential solutions for the doping control systems based on analyses of the available theoretical and practical literature on the subject and questionnaire surveys of the athletic communities to find solutions for the doping issues. It should be underlined that the modern doping control systems shall be designed with: stringent penalties for the violating coaches and athletes; regular tests; special knowledge and skills advancement trainings for coaches; efficient sport selection systems for gifted children and adolescents; systemic anti-doping campaigns; and upgrades to the doping control systems.